Bhubaneswar: Over 50 students. Fourth floor. Small room. One entry/exit point. And, looming danger. This was the situation in a coaching centre at Surat as a major fire broke out on Friday that claimed 23 innocent lives. The fire was sparked off by a short circuit in the transformer of the building and it took 18 fire tenders to douse the flames. While two students are on ventilator, four others have been charred beyond recognition. This brings us to the question- Are Coaching Centres in Bhubaneswar well-equipped to tackle such a situation?
Being a rising hub of education, OMMCOM NEWS conducted ground inspection of major coaching centres in the capital city to find out whether students are safe in these places. Notably, the youngsters spend a massive chunk of their day in these rooms preparing for their futures. Thus, safety measures must be in place at these coaching institutes to ensure the young generation’s well-being.
Authorities of the renowned Aakash Institute in the heart of the city refused the entry of video cameras into the building. They also restrained from giving an interview. While the arrangements looked adequate with enough windows that could double up as exit points, deep prodding could not be conducted on issues like- whether the officials have taken part in mock drills, have they obtained a fire safety license, etc.
Director of Disha Institute, Snigdha Rani Sahoo said, “Fire safety officials have given us instructions. Apart from that, all our rooms have fire extinguishers. Our staff has been taught how to operate them. The students have also been kept aware. All the rooms have windows to avoid cases of asphyxiation and suffocation.”
She further stated, “Since this place is rented, we have no idea about the fire safety license. The house owner will be able to answer that.”
Subrat Chatei, CMD of VANIK institute said, “We have a fireline, emergency tank, fire pump and extinguisher in place. Fire department had sent us detailed instructions to do so. Teachers and students have been trained. Around a month back, an evacuation drill was also held.”
While Director General of Fire Services BK Sharma remained unavailable for a comment on mock drills and regular inspections, thousands of parents wait with bated breath for several hours till their children return home safely from coaching institutes.